Is corporate information management in crisis?
Our annual Business Information Survey is a qualitative study based on in-depth interviews with senior information managers. Researched and written by Allan Foster, the Survey provides rich data on the development of corporate information services.
In the first of a two-part feature, Allan Foster shares the findings of our 2013 Business Information Survey on the SLA Europe blog, looking at the pressures that are impacting on information services and how they are responding.
Thanks to our colleagues at SLA and once again to everyone who participated in the research process.
The March issue of Business Information Review includes this year’s Business Information Survey.
Researched and written by Allan Foster, and now in its 23rd year, the latest survey has been given the rather challenging subtitle “Add value or die”.
You can hear Allan discussing his findings with Sandra Ward on our very first podcast which you can access here.
Some of the key findings of the Survey include:
· Very mixed fortunes of respondents, from modest expansion to disbandment
· Serious senior management scepticism of the traditional centralized information services model
· Outsourcing, on or offshore, still a popular organizational model, with notable successes and failures
· The professional development pipeline for IM/IS personnel has been damaged by, amongst other factors, outsourcing
· The notably successful services are finding new and imaginative ways of adding value, sometimes well outside traditional IS/IM boundaries
· The more removed the head of the IS/IM service is from the senior management and Board, the more vulnerable is the service
The 22nd annual Business Information Survey throws interesting light on many of the key information/knowledge management challenges faced by corporations. It is based on in-depth interviews with 22 senior managers in a wide range of industrial sectors, conducted in December 2011 & January 2012. As in previous years, this is a qualitative survey which is designed to produce a readable, narrative account of strategic factors affecting these services and some of the hard choices that are having to be made in a taxing business climate.
This year’s respondents are, on the whole, cautious about the likely fortunes of their companies and of the information/knowledge and research units they run. However, there is considerable evidence that they are tackling their managerial challenges with realism, imagination and gusto.
Some of the issues covered by the Survey include:
1. Resourcing: how content and staffing budgets have fared.
2. Progress on the integration of external and internal information
3. The affect of the exponential growth of users’ mobile digital devices on information delivery and service support
4. How these information managers handle the issue of working with partners, third parties, individual contractors – and the implications for licensing, vendor relations and support
5. Do they encourage collaboration by managing explicit/tacit knowledge, knowledge silos, communities of practice & systems such as Sharepoint?
6. How does severe organizational turbulence such as from a merger or de-merger affect the IM/KM culture and task?
7. How have their relations with Vendors changed including content licensing, negotiating and service supply issues?
8. Are they using outsourcing and/or offshoring for any IM/KM functions?
9. Search and data mining capabilities in the respondent companies.
10. Are the analytical skills of IS/KM staff being enhanced?
11. What position is the IM/KM function in the company’s value chain and how can it add more value?
12. How important are workflow systems in globally distributed information services?
The Business Information Survey 2012 will be in Business Information Review, 29 (1), 2012. Keep an eye out for it on the Sage Publications website and through tweets and alerts nearer the time of publication.
Information Industry Consultant
Allan Foster, Initiatives Editor and author of our annual Business Information Survey recently ran an evening session for SLA Europe in Manchester. Drawing on the findings of the latest Business Information Survey, Allan shared with the delegates pointers to the skills and approaches required to run successful information services. These include the skills set required to work globally (building alliances and integrating services); being prepared for an increased emphasis on compliance work; and developing ‘hard nosed’ negotiation skills. The session feeds into SLA’s Future Ready theme.
The March 2010 issue of BIR sees the publication of the 20th annual survey of the current state of business information services.
This year’s survey is the result of indepth conversations with 22 information service leaders in manufacturing, business and finance, law, insurance and consultancy and professional services. As always we are truly grateful to those people who shared their experiences, thinking and concerns with us so freely.
The survey reflects the increased scrutiny of the costs and benefits of information services that a tough business environment makes inevitable. The respondents report tough negotiations with vendors as they battle to keep expenditure as low as possible. 85% of the respondents report a downturn in content budget and/or staffing numbers. 20% have outsourced or offshored parts of their information fuction, while more are considering such a move. For the first time, law firms in particular are exploring this option.
The picture isn’t one of universal gloom. Some services are taking the opportunity to focus on developing business critical services and raising their profile. For some, the challenging times are helping them ‘move up the value chain’.
The full text of the Survey is available to download from the Sage website.